Pep Guardiola heaps praise on Manchester United midfielder

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has praised the qualities of midfielder Juan Mata while enclosing that he had been interested in signing him for Barcelona many years ago. The Spain international is currently in the ranks of Manchester United, but his future remains doubtful with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

Speaking in a news conference, Guardiola spoke highly about the former Valencia man and revealed that the Blaugrana were monitoring the Spaniard during his time at the Mestalla, he said: “He’s an exceptional player. One of the players I like the most – not love because I don’t know him well, but one of the players I like the most. From Valencia, always in Barcelona, we took an eye to try to bring him to Barcelona, but the problem was we had a lot of midfield players. That was a little bit the problem, but he is an incredible player. He played really well at Chelsea and United.”

Mata has been offered with a one-year deal by United with the option of another 12 months, but he is supposedly eyeing a multi-year contract. As such, contract discussions have stalled for the moment and it appears that he could head through the Old Trafford exit door, unless the club are prepared to re-negotiate fresh terms.

Meanwhile, reports have claimed that Barcelona could retain their long-term interest in the midfielder with the club looking to add more experience within the midfield ranks. The Spaniard won’t necessarily be guaranteed with a regular role at the Camp Nou but the club are prepared to reward him with a three-year contract which ensures better stability.

Mata was an unused substitute for United during the midweek Premier League clash at Wolverhampton Wanderers, where they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. The result has dropped United to sixth on the table, but they are within two points off the Champions League places.


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